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More reasons to watch Soy Andina

From our friend Dave Schraeger:

"Soy Andina," a documentary whose title means "I am Andean," is being shown at Monmouth University on Friday, February 15th at 7:00 pm. This is a very progressive film that everyone who opposes war and racism should come and see.

Ben Box from Footprint Peru

Long-time Footprint Peru editor Ben Box shares his reactions after watching Soy Andina:


It made me so nostalgic for Peru, all the dances and the places. It really captured a lot of what Peru is about and I remembered several occasions when I have found myself in someone's house for a get together that turned into an impromptu music and dance session. Everyone seems to have so much music in them.

Another reason to see the movie at Monmouth U. (or anywhere!)

Our friend David Shraeger posted this to his list. I like how he describes the message. Thanks Dave!

On Friday, February 15, 2008, there will be a screening of a documentary "Soy Andina" ("I Am Andean") at Monmouth University.

It features my friend Nélida Silva, a Peruvian woman whose father taught Quechua, the Incan langugage, even though the Peruvian authorities prohibited him from doing so. It also features Cynthia Paniagua, whose father is Puerto Rican and whose mother is Peruvian.

Cynthia wins a a Fullbright Scholarship to study Peruvian folk dancing and studies in Lima, but finds greater acceptance and learns even more outside Lima among the indigenous and Afro-Peruvians.

The message is about respect for the autochtonous (Yes, that is a word!), or, indigenous. It is a progressive message of respect for people of all cultures and is distinctively anti-racist.

My friend Nélida, who hosted the Patron Saint Festival of her hometown, is a progressive and this is a documentary that we should all support. If you can make it to Monmouth University to see this documentary, please do so. I've seen it and it's terrific! I saw it with my fiancée who is Peruvian and she was very impressed.

Reactions to the Film

To leave a new comment, scroll to end of this post.

Thanks for a great screening. It was a wonderful close to the festival. The film is life affirming, entertaining and beautiful to watch. You succeeded in telling an authentic story from an honest point of view that is not only respectful of Peruvian culture but is imbued in its spirit. Hard thing to manage when you are not from the culture. Many people told me they were surprised to learn you are not Peruvian. You have still some successful screenings ahead of you with this film....As Catholics would say -- "bendito tu eres entre todas las mujeres," Mitch! That means something like "blessed art thou amongst all the women" (it's from the Bible). Congratulations!
- Marcela Goglio, Curator
Latinbeat, Film Society of Lincoln Center

Quite wonderful. The film had passion that was unescapable. It felt very much connected to the dance culture. Thank you. I would like to show it to my folk dance class for obvious reasons. You captured the flavor of the culture. The two stories of the women and the way they intertwined was interesting, easy to follow, and touching.
- Jana Feinman, director of Dance Program
Hunter College

What an exquisite have captured the heart of a story which speaks to any of us who have "left home." The dancing and music uplift and invite. My life is richer for this brief, yet powerful and lasting connection with the spirit of Peru. Thank you, Mitch, Nelida, Cynthia, and all the awesome folks who participated in this project.
- Claire Mandeville

Ver la película Soy Andina fue una experiencia única para mi. Como le dije a Mitch cuando le agradecí por sus esfuerzos al hacer este documental, es la película que esperé toda mi vida. Fue lindo conocerte y espero poder vernos pronto. No veo las horas que ya salga en DVD para comprarlo y ver el documental muchas veces más.
- Cecilia


More reactions from Kearny

From Renato Varas (whose company, the Varas Group, imports Chicha Morada from Peru - read more about them here):

Thanks for putting together an excellent documentary about Peru's customs. It continues to bother me how very few try to educate others about all that our country has to offer. I always wonder if we're proud enough as a people about our origins; I say this because I see other cultures with a lot less history and less natural resources than Peru do so much more. I guess this is a big challenge for Peruvian people to educate the world about how rich a nation we have.

Anyway, my biggest observation is how Cynthia left the U.S a girl and came back a woman. The maturity combined with her experiences there had a very big influence in her outlook about life. You can see it in gestures, manners, body language, etc. I'm glad Cynthia needed to find out who she really was and went for it. It took courage and obviously she evolved as a person and woman. Indirectly with this project you helped Cynthia find herself.

I think we can all learn from Nelida about how proud we all should be about our ancestry. Nelida showed how deep her roots are and how stubborn she can be about expressing it. I think our community should take a lesson from her book.

I also search within to find out who I am, where am I going and what my real desires are. This documentary reminded me of the essence that makes a person and a nation. Gracias.

From Karla Corcuera:

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Soy Andina screening a the Kearny Public Library and had a great time....Soy Andina was excellent!!!
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From left to right: Anna de La Torre, grammar school teacher; Nélida Silva; Karla Corcuera, owner, KC Document Services; Ana Maria Quispe, Founder, The Tiksi Group; Katty Rivera, Nuestra Comunidad newspaper

“I"ve worn out the replay button from playing the dance clips”

Got these lovely comments from Alejandra Wong, a Peruvian-born young woman living in Indiana. Equally interesting to me is how we connected -- via Facebook, which is really getting a buzz as a Social Media network.

I've followed the development of your documentary for quite a while. I have worn out the replay button on my computer from playing and replaying the dance clips. I am Peruvian and the emotion one feels when the drum starts to roll at the beginning of a Marinara is incredible.

I just wanted to thank you for the interest you've shown in my country. Through your clips, I see how you see my country, and your vision is beautiful.

Comentarios: Clase Producción de Medios Audiovisuales De la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Pe

Mi amiga, la cantante y profesora Carolina Cruz, me invitó presentar la pelicula a su clase: Producción de Medios Audiovisuales De la Pontificia Universidad Católica. Aqui son los comentarios:

Música, pudo haber sido major en cuanto a la relacion que tiene con cada ciudad, distrito....En cuanto a la historia, una está mas lograda que otra....Hay cortes de edicion no muy bien trabajados antes de que la chica Cinthya lea la carta. Ej. Puerta salon de baile, corte, cara de Cinthya mirando la carta(eso confunde) y no llega a transmitir suspenso....Al principio el documental es un poco lento, luego toma ritmo....Preguntas: ¿cual fue el presupuesto?, ¿Como lo obtuvo?, ¿como se intereso en el tema?
- Katherine Morales, Lorena Mass Me gusto mucho y me senti muy identificada porque mis padres son japoneses, pero yo naci en el Peru y se lo que puede ser los choques culturales. Lo que creo que podrian incorporarse elementos culturales como la comida, las flores y paisajes. Mi pregunta es ¿Como elegir las escenas que dan major con nuestra historia?
- Raymi Shinoda

En algunos momentos hace falta la voz de un narrador para contextualizar. Un narrado aparte de las protagonistas.
- Gustavo Flores Paredes

El documental es muy apasionante, vives junto a las protagonistas sus danzas, su forma de ver la realidad de una cultura para la mayoría de los peruanos esta a un lado. Siempre estas al pendiente de que puede suceder o cómo van a reaccionar a ciertas cosas. Los paisajes que muestran son preciosos, pues yo al igual que las protagnoistas (sobretodo cinthia), me gusta mucho los bailes peruanos: la marinera, el tondero, nogroide (musica negra), etc. Como dice Cinthia es genial sentir la musica cuando estas bailando.
- Sandra Huerta

El Perú no esta en Lima. El Perú no es Lima. Lima busca serlo, pero no abarca toda nuestra cultura. Triste es pensar que lo de afuera del pa;is es major, pero el viaje de cinthia demuestra lo contrario. Fuera de todos los viajes tecnicos para lograr la realización del documental es un viaje interno a lo que significa el Peru en sus raíces.
- Gésell Vargas

El documental me parecio muy emocionante, porque te hace vivir sentimientos que tienen muchos peruanos que viven en el extranjero y qeu sienten el fuerte lazo que los une al Peru. Ese amor hacia su tierra, sus costumbres, sus danzas, etc.

El documental ademas presenta una visi;on crítica de la valoracion que hacen los propios peruanos hacia su cultural. La diferencia que hay entre limeños y provincianos.
Nos enseña a valorar esas costumbres y queremos mas a nuestra propia culutra y a nosotros mismos ocmo peruanos. Muy bueno
- Jose Tinoco

Me gusto el argumento, fue interesante ver el desarrollo y los problemas a los cuales se enfrentaron los protagonistas. Quizas utilizar planos cerrados para capaturar gestos, detalles, hubiera funcionado (mas dramatico), quizas hubiera sumergido mas al espectador. En conclusion, un buen documental, buen despliegue de información....

Me gusto mucho el tratamiento del docuemtnal con las historias en paralelo de Nélida y Cinthia. En cuanto a la forma, me pareci;on novedoso el colorar las frases escritas sobre imagines, incluso la de la comunicacion por internet. Lo que me gustaria es ver el resto del documental. Ah¡ si en algun momento necesitas ayudante en alguna producción, me ofrezco a ayudar en todo, de todo corazón¡.
- Estrella Ríos

Dínos a tus reacciónes a la pelicula

"Orgullosa y feliz de haberte conocido en una noche profunda donde pensamientos y sentimientos sagrados nos permitieron re-encontrarnos con nuestra verdadera identidad....Yo tambien soyandina, llevo con orgullo un apellido quechua que hace tornear los ojos a quienes se enteran del lugar de mi nacimiento. Tu hermana andina...
− Ana Maria Quispe

Read and share your reactions to the film

Did you see the film? This is the place to share your thoughts! Click the "Comments" link at the bottom. Thanks.

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"Everyone in my party − teens from 3 different continents − really enjoyed the film and commented on how passionate and beautiful it was. Each of the kids at some point said "Hey! - It's like that in my country too!" - then related a story about their own was amazing. They completely connected with the story and the experiences of Neli and Cynthia."
- Angela Fuhrken, Young Life
"I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the film, the dancing, and all of the wonderful energy in the room."
− Marjorie Nass, yoga teacher
"Now I realize what a crazy man you are, to have made your first film (as producer AND director) in the Andes. Whew, baby, it's like deciding to learn to walk a tightrope while already on a wire strung between the Empire State and Chrysler buildings!"
− JK Canepa, community activist, More Gardens
"I really liked it....both characters seemed larger than life, so much intensity and passion."
− Carlos Guitierrez, co-founder/director, Cinema Tropical
"You were able to show the feeling of Peruvian dances and of both characters. You should keep doing documentaries."
− Vania Milanovich
"The film came together very well − it was obvious that tons of deliberation went to every cut. The story was tight, the characters clear, and the end result seems to hit your audience exactly the way you always hoped that it would...I was so impressed to see such a huge packed theater and such thoughtful and moving conversation after."
− Jay Sterrenberg, director, "Bolivia"
I loved the movie! It actually moved me to tears a little bit! Maybe I was a little extra emotional, but there was just an incredible energy in that room, and the Q&A session afterwards was very cool too. Many of my friends are Peruvian and they absolutely loved it as well. You really captured a very special story that so many people can relate to

- Rachel Caplan

"Well done! I enjoyed the film, but was a little sad not to see more of Neli and the Fiesta Patronal in it."
− Antoinette Maclachlan, massage therapist and Ghandigiri
"A great first film."
− Cecilia Salvatierra, Ph.D. Anthropology, CUNY Grad Center
"Thanks for a lovely evening. I really enjoyed it! The film and extras all made for a great screening event!"
− Agnes Varnum, documentary film consultant
"We loved it! Had so much fun and learned so much about Peru!"
Ricki Grater, Shanti Space Psychotherapy ~ Dance-Movement Therapy
A couple of friends from the International Center were a little disappointed not to see more of Nelida and her preparation & hosting of the fiesta.  Some of them saw the raw material when you showed it at the Center last time and expected to see the continuation of that version. One asked what happened to that original version. All I can tell him was, I will ask you and let him know!"
− The Jennster, ThinGyan, Burmese Arts & Culture
" I am writing to thank you for such a wonderful film you, Cynthia and Nelida put together. My parents and I immigrated from Peru some 23 years ago and we know first-hand the struggle immigrants undergo when making such a life-altering change.  Your film hit close to home.

We were choked up throughout the entire film. Even though we travel to Peru every year or so, we only get to travel for a short time and we do not get to see most of our family outside of Lima - "Soy Andina" showcases so many different little "provincias" of Peru, it was almost as if we had visited all of our relatives that we haven't seen in a long while - And believe-you-me, we have a BIG family.

We own a Peruvian restaurant in Kearny, NJ. I have put my heart and soul into this restaurant much like you have with your film. I would be honored if you, Neli and Cynthia would join us for dinner with our if's, and's or but's, please. This is my way to give back to you for helping spread the word of the rich culture of Peru."
− Juan Placencia, "Oh! Calamares" restaurant, Kearny, NJ
"The film was really uplifting, culturally enriching, and fun!"
− Danielle Zambito, jewelry designer
"A magnificent tribute to cultural re-awakening."
− Rick Vecchio, Fertur Tours
"Quite a night! - The movie was sweet, sad, funny and hopeful."
− Mitch Karig
"I thought the film was wonderful, heartfelt, worthy, and important to so many people in the immigrant community (that's all of us when you look at it historically)...

I was a little put off by the time-line thing, kind of blending Cynthia and Nelida into the same time frame. That felt weird to me, but I'm not sure others would feel that way who didn't know when Cynthia appeared on the scene...

I liked the e-mail device, both as a way to explain the story, and also as a reality as to how modernization touches the most remote places...

I think it tells the story you wanted to tell from the very beginning. I know you were hoping that Nelida and the festival would be the vehicle for that, but I don't think it ever would have done it if Cynthia hadn't come along. She is so articulate in her own 'goofy ghetto way,' so animated − and a beautiful dancer to boot."
− Bev Grant, singer/songwriter/cultural activist
"A stunning and life-affirming experience!"
− Anne Libby, yoga teacher/managment consultant
"It was so fun to see the cultural snapshots of Peru and its beautiful landscape. I wanna go! "
− Michelle Coe, Women Make Movies
"You have given from your heart and there is nothing stronger. Allow the film to flow as a wonderful gift to those who see it, and for you to start to enjoy the ride without expectations."
− Dalia Allon-Meeter
"The film looks great, you made it! I cried twice in the film and got very moved by the comments of people."
− Fernanda Rossi, film story consultant
"A wonderful night. Everyone loved it."
− Cindy Arlinsky, professional organizer
"I was delighted with the reaction of my friends that came to see the premiere, none of whom were Peruvian, and they were so touched by the film which just proves how people from all cultures can really relate to this story. Many friends wanted to see more of Neli and Llamellin and I think that is great! Much better that they want to see more rather than less of Neli! I think Neli's presence is really strong in the film while Cyntha's character had more conflicts, she was developing and discovering, while Neli comes across as a lot more grounded, however I do feel that both were needed to tell this story. The way you used the correspondence between Neli and Cynthia was really key to combine their stories and really worked wonderfully!

The idea to include more Llamellin footage with the DVD is a great idea, I think it is great that the audience wants to see more of Neli and Llamellin because they can; This is not fiction, so through the Ballet Folklorico Peru and Llamellin websites the audience can search Neli out and visit Llamellin. This is a real opportunity to take things further − promoting Peruvian folk dance and Llamellin through websites, blogs, talks, write ups, etc..."
- Leda Duif, Arequipa Health Clinic Project
"A masterpiece!"
(Drats, I didn't get the name of the person who told me this after the screening...but she seemed serious! − Mitch)
"I really had a nice time and loved seeing the film. Mazel Tov!"
− Steve Mendelsohn, executive director, Project Rebirth
"Wow! We really enjoyed it! Renee, our 15 year-old daughter, is absolutely ready to take Peruvian dance class. Me, too!"
− Amy Drezner, Morgenstern & Associates
"Everyone seemed so engrossed and "into" the film. My friend's Peruvian boyfriend was commenting throughout the film − 'I've been there,' 'I used to go to that school,'  'I know that place,' etc. It really seemed to strike a chord."
− Gary Tracy, Optometrist
"A week later, and the film has really stayed with me − a sign of it's power. It's an inspiration."
− Mehr Mansuri, artistic director, Children's Theater Company

Peruvian shoes, anyone?

Dear Mitch: We met two years ago in SA explorers in Lima. I feel so enthused to finally see your trailer!

I'm half-Peruvian, and love Peru and the preservation of its traditions. I'm exporting shoes hand-crafted in Peru to the US. So many people appreciate that our shoes are made in Peru but have little concept of what that means.

Please let me know if I can help promote the film! You are creating a wonderful thing here.

Un abrazo enorme - Kerry Clarkson, Marcello Toshi Creazioni

From Idaho, Chicago, North Carolina….

Hi Mitchell! I wish we could see the movie where I live, way far in North Idaho in a little town called Rathdrum. I also dance folk dances (marinera punenia especially) and this clip brought me back to the land I love and miss so much....(more from Charo here)

Hi Cynthia, I came across your website searching for Peruvian dance videos on youtube. This sounds so exciting! I love to dance, and I've been dreaming of going to Peru to learn the folkloric dances. Will you be teaching classes or showing the film in Chicago anytime soon? (More from Kim here)

Hello Cynthia, I am very interested in learning more about peruvian dances. My parents are both from Peru. I would love to join your class, however, I live in North Carolina. I was wondering if you knew of anyone in North Carolina who teaches Peruvian folk dancing....(More from Johanan here)

A dancer from Alaska….

I am a dancer and choreographer and came across the Soy Andina website after a trip to Peru last summer. I watched the "preview" and was intrigued. story. As is often the case with people viewing films or hearing other people's personal stories, I found myself comparing and contrasting my experiences of my own cultures, in different settings, situations, times.

Thus, it was the combination of dance, dance on film, the personal journey, the cultural wobble and interactions, personal identity - these things that "got to me" about Soy Andina. Plus, I really liked Peru.

From NY to Peru, Cuba to Australia, we’re hearing: “Can’t wait to see Soy Andina!”

Just a partial list, hard to keep up!

"Seeing the video put tears in my eyes. I've lived in the US for 19 years. The video reminded me of when I was a child and danced to our beautiful music in Peru.... I would love to meet the ladies from the video, and maybe start dancing again. VIVA EL PERU!"
(Patricia, NYC)

"We live in Brisbane, Australia and makes us very proud to hear you have completed the documentary. We hope to buy the DVD so we can show it to our family (all our children were born here and because the Peruvian community is so small we have not had access to cultural events such as this....regards from Down Under!!!"
(Rossana, Brisbane, Australia)

"Neli is the the soon-to-be superstar of Andean dance and yoga!"
(JK, environment activist/sage, NYC)

"Bueno, al fin. Enhorabuena! Can't wait to see it!"
(Cris and Richard Martinez, filmmaker/composer, NY)

"Mitch, I hope you remember me. I used to help you out at the fundraisers (I was Miss Peru Belleza Latina then smile We do screenings at my school, let me know what you need to come!"
(Elena Gil, U. of San Francisco School of Law)

No se ni como llegue a este sitio, pero me encanta la idea....y re orgullosa de ser Peruana!!
(Claudia, Toronto)

"No se si se acordaran de mi, soy Sarela, la hija del alcalde de Julcan...bueno quisiera poder mostrar a toda la poblacion de Julcan y se puedan sentir orgullos del lugar donde son..."
(Sarela Sofía Verástegui López, Julcàn, Jauja, Perù)

"Wooohooo!!! This is so exciting. I can't wait"
(Melissa, holistic health counselor, NYC)

"Congratulations on completing your film. Could I persuade you to appear at our NYC manifestation workshop and talk about your odyssy and what it is like to complete something."
(Rick, workshop facilitator/writer, Warwick, NY)

"Mitch, congratulations! You are the Energizer Bunny"
(Stuart, massage therapist, NYC)

"That is amazing news! Many blessings on your continued journey to bring your dream project to fruition. You really embody the qualities of persistence and determination! Namaste."
(Marjorie, teacher, World Yoga Center, NYC)

"Congratulations my dear friend...I am so looking forward to being in NYC for the opening day. Well done and get that music locked in and you are set! Very busy here with Inveneo and a little QuaKit"
(Colm, San Francisco)

"Congratulations on getting your film finished -- it looks like you've done an amazing job! Would you like to do a screening at Center for Communication this spring....we present seminars for film buffs, media professionals and aspiring filmmakers who, I am sure, would find your movie fascinating..."
(Catherine, Executive Director, NYC)

"Thanks Mitch and good luck. Can't wait for the movie to be in theaters in California! I'm going to make sure that all my family, friends and co-workers see this movie. Keep up the good work and I thank you for getting involved in a project that involves our culture. THANKS"
(Julio, California)

"Congratulations, Mitch! I'd love to do a brief interview about fundraising for all our struggling filmmakers...I I haven't had chicha in years -- one of my best friends, who is from Lima, gave me some when we were grad students!"
(Charlotte, Director, The Foundation Center, NY Library

"Congratulations! I am imagining you taking a big deep breath and doing a wild Peruvian dance. Muchos Abrazos."
(Neila, therapist, NYC)

"I think this doc will speak to many people in the US who are realizing something special in themselves and in their families culture.Again, let me know if there are any publicity materials (hard copies or electronic) that I can use to promote the film amongst the Peruvian and Latino community. I really want to see this have a huge audience."
(Cesar, NYC)

"Que tal de tu proyecto de venir a LA Habana alguna vez?"
(Marta, Linguist, Habana, Cuba)

"I am a New Yorker with Peruvian parents. I this movie will empower Peruvian-Americans who are sometimes ignorant or embarrassed of Peruvian culture."
(Daniela, NYC)

"You rock!" (several people)

Viva Peru!

"I am so proud of my Indigenous and African Peruvian heritage. Thanks for doing this, it will open doors for the vindication of our culture in a country that is plagued with racism. Beautiful work! Viva Peru!"
- Carlos Quiroz

Susan shares her story

Just got this wonderful email from Susan — sums up the message of this film better than I can. I'll be quoting her words in all future fundraising pitches! The money quote, for me: I think this documentary is so inspirational to people with different backrounds struggling to find themselves here in the United States. Read the comments, too.

Hi — I just wanted to say that this documentary is great. It's so important to know where you came from. Know the place you were born and your culture really helps you understand who you are.
I can't wait to see the film.

I also have a similar story. I am also Peruvian...

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